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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin 

Covid-19: Archbishop of Dublin criticizes anti-mask demonstrators

The Archbishop of Dublin in Ireland, Diarmuid Martin, voices his concern about anti-mask demonstrations amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Vatican News

In a statement entitled: “Reflections on lockdown times,” the Archbishop said anti-mask demonstrations were a negative trend in Irish society.

“When you look at some of the protests against mask-wearing and other restrictive measures, behind outward talk of respecting individual liberties there was also a strain of negation of the virus.” 

He continued by saying that some of those who took part in the anti-mask demonstrations were the same groups that attempted to overturn his car when he attended the Eid gathering in Croke Park, Dublin, earlier this year.

“There are voices out there who do not understand, or do not want to understand, what religious tolerance means in the Ireland of today and that should concern all of us,” the Archbishop said.

Responsible response

In the statement, Archbishop Martin praised people in Ireland who “reacted quickly and responded responsibly and generously to restrictions which were truly life changing.” 

“Frontline workers earned our respect, gratitude and admiration; public health authorities emerged from the corridors of government offices and became trusted public figures; schools had to close but soon a creative response of on-line home schooling emerged.”

Church amid pandemic

He also underlined the work of the Church in these challenging times. “Crosscare, in the Catholic Archdiocese, responded to the special needs of the homeless and as a result, the incidence of the virus among the homeless in Dublin was held within surprising limits. These are just some examples of how citizens and our religious communities responded.”

The Archbishop stressed, “It is important that society is helped to remember the contribution that public religious practice makes to the spiritual and personal wellbeing of believers. Religious leaders can be powerful agents of fostering responsible behaviour.” 

He also pointed out that they should be in the forefront in addressing new needs as they emerge, such as unemployment and mental health challenges.

The Archbishop noted that during his time as the Vatican Diplomatic Representative at the UN Organizations in Geneva, he got to know leading epidemiologists. He said, “they were in no doubt over a decade ago that a worldwide pandemic was possible if not probable and that countries should be prepared. Most countries were not.”

Concluding his statement, Archbishop Martin emphasized, “We have to use the current situation to reflect on what kind of Church we need during the pandemic and afterwards.

“We can rightly lament the loss of our ability to celebrate in our Cathedrals but we must also remember that the Lord has placed us in the unexpected new Cathedral of the harshness of human suffering.  That is where we are called to be and to minister, and these new cathedrals will be strikingly more authentic and remarkably less clerical and institutional.”

19 October 2020, 11:37